At AIIR we believe that thoughtful reflection of the past paves the road for future growth and innovation. In this spirit, we continue long our tradition of sharing with our customers, colleagues, and friends the events, resources and tidbits of information that we found most compelling in 2014.
Best Business Book of 2014: The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz
“The Other day, a friend of mine asked me whether CEOs were born or made. I said, “That’s kind of like asking if Jolly Ranchers are grown or made. CEO is an unnatural job.” (Horowitz, p. 229)
In Hard Thing About Hard Things, Ben Horowitz pulls out all the stops to candidly reveal the rocky and treacherous journey leaders must go on to manage, lead and create disruptive change. With chapters titled, “When Things Fall Apart“ and “Take Care of the People, The Products, and the Profits-In that Order,” you will quickly find yourself in the shoes of a startup CEO who must choose the least, worst option among a set of terrible options. In revealing the emotional rollercoaster an organizational leader is confronted with daily, Horowitz provides a perspective rarely captured in well-edited business books and academic models.
Most Disruptive Company of the 2014: Uber
Whether you need to hail a cab on rainy day in Manhattan at 5:30pm, find yourself on foot and lost in Providence, RI, or simply want to impress a valued guest at your cocktail party….Uber is your new personal driver. In just a few taps, a comfortable black car or SUV will be at your doorstep in 5-7 minutes. No need to pull out your wallet or make calculations about what to tip. Uber's system goes end to end, reducing the multi-step, stressful experience of taxi travel to pressing a button on your mobile device. In 2014, Uber transported AIIR consultants to and from assignments and travel, saving us invaluable time and emotional bandwidth. It’s no wonder Uber has achieved a $40 billion valuation in less than six years. Sure...there has been controversy and no doubt Uber has attracted some enemies, but isn't that what happens when you disrupt a whole industry that is averse to change?
Our Favorite Apps in 2014: Our top three apps of the year all center around the theme of productivity and efficiency.
MindNode: In our complex world of information overload, organizing the contents of our brain is essential.
MindNode will help you do this with elegance and ease.
Lumosity: Created based on neurosciencientific research, this app allows users to enhance their brain simply by playing games. With over 40+ games available, Lumosity brings a quick and easy way to bolster cognition.
TurboScan: This app essentially turns your smartphone into a scanner. Eliminate the pain of always trying to figure out how to use the scanner on your all-in-one printer. Getting signed documents copied, shared, and sent has never been easier since the fax machine (RIP).
Best AIIR Video of the Year: [youtube=http://youtu.be/PjBEoBqKSjU]
Our top 3 articles from 2014: Our favorite articles in 2014 focused on setting boundaries in a world of hyper-connectivity, the behaviors that give innovation leaders a competitive advantage, and the common pitfalls to avoid when building out your next leadership development program. Check out the links below to learn more.
- AIIR's Favorite Leadership Article: 10-traits-of-innovative-leaders
- AIIR's Favorite Self Management Article: Why Saying no gets you ahead
- AIIR's Favorite Talent Management Article: Why Leadership Development Programs Fail
AIIR’s Top Blog Post of 2014: AIIR Spotlight with Jonathan Kirschner
In 2014, each month AIIR’s Candice Henderson interviewed a member of the AIIR team to share more personally about their career trajectory, coaching style, and the unique strengths they bring to the table. Enjoy AIIR's Coach Spotlight with Dr. Jonathan Kirschner, the most viewed post in 2014 on the AIIR Blog.
Who We Will Miss the Most: Robin Williams [youtube=http://youtu.be/q86u0bDE17w]
Biggest Flop of 2014 and What We Learned: Amazon Fire Phone
With a 3D display, the ability to scan products in store for identification and a year of Prime included, the Amazon Fire Phone came to market with an ambitious plan to raise the bar on smartphone technology. However, after a summer of disappointing sales, it seems the Fire could be a short burning one. This year Amazon has taken a $170 million loss for its unsold phones as consumers scratch their heads wondering whether Amazon.com is the place to conveniently purchased their goods, or is it a mobile device maker. At AIIR, our key take-way is the painful lesson that you sometimes have to violate in order to really fully discern....…”Stay focused on your core mission and business value proposition.”
AIIR’s most viewed Slideshare of 2014: [slideshare id=40938695&doc=columbiareflections2014-141030164207-conversion-gate02]
Our Favorite Game of Thrones Leader: Tyrion
As a firm dedicated to assisting hard-charging executives increase their effectiveness and bring competitive advantage to their businesses, the work can be exhilarating - but also tiring. Even at AIIR we need to kick up our feet once in while. And when we do, one of our favorite guilty pleasures is Game of Thrones. AIIR’s favorite character from the 2014 season is none other than Tyrion. We love Tyrion because of his servant leadership, his wits, his resilience, and his ability to stay grounded in his values in a world full of Lannisters and noise.
Who to be scared of in in 2015: Alibaba (BABA: NYSE)
Alibaba takes the prize for our 2015 most disruptive company prediction. Jack Ma went from school teach to founder/CEO of Alibaba, which this past year was the largest IPO in US history with a market cap currently valued at around 260 billion dollars. The big question on everyone's mind is... how does this happen? Clearly Alibaba has a robust business model, a diversified mix of businesses, and after all...they are based in the largest growth economy in the world. But that still doesn't explain how Ma could scale-up his business to these heights in a little over 10 years (as a point of reference, Amazon.com is 141B and Ebay 71B in market cap respectively. The short answer, we believe, is leadership. From all the interviews and anecdotal stories that have surfaced to date, Jack Ma possess the Humility, Ambition, Perseverance, Learning Agility, and Focus that we believe represents the leadership formula for success in our global, mobile, VUCA business terrain.
The Most Ambitious Non-Profit of 2014: Watsi
Based in San Francisco, Watsi is a non-profit crowd-funding platform whose mission is to provide "healthcare for every person on the planet." By connecting medical patients with donors through the internet, it is a revolutionary way to efficiently cover the medical costs for those in the developing world who can’t afford the procedures they need. According to NPR, it is one of the fastest growing non-profits in web history. To learn more about how you can contribute, check out this video here.
Our Favorite Productivity Tool of 2014: Unroll Me
Email overload is a serious threat to our productivity and ability to focus. Unroll.me is a valuable weapon to wield for your inbox war. Unroll.me syncs up to your email and essentially wraps up all the subscriptions and emails you don't want to read into one single daily email that you can quickly peruse and delete. Over the last year, Unroll.me saved eyes over 3 billion emails - nearly 2 billion emails more than it bundled the year before. As an FYI, if you're curious about the biggest email spam culprits, check out Unroll's 2nd annual SPAMMY awards.
Quote of the Year: From Tim Cook, CEO of Apple
We wish you a peaceful and joyous holiday season. We can't wait to see you in 2015!